The European Union is an unprecedented institutional enterprise, requiring (among other things) an ambitious vision of intramural translatability and mutual language learning. Europeans today are encouraged to become at least trilingual (able to use their native language, another European language, and English). In order to move Europe into this newly imagined universal multilingualism, pedagogues and policy-makers have been collaborating over the past twenty years to conceive a Common European Framework for Languages, according to which language learners’ proficiency is to be evaluated.
Billing itself as “transparent, coherent, and comprehensive,” the evaluation scheme of the CEFR takes place on a scale of A1 (beginner) to C2 (advanced), and these various stages of language learning are described in a first-person, optimistic, individualistic manner, highlighting the learner’s steadily increasing competence in the four skill areas: writing, reading, listening, and speaking. For instance, the A1 in Reading is described in German (alongside 38 other languages) as follows: “Ich kann einzelne vertraute Namen, Wörter und ganz einfache Sätze verstehen, z. B. auf Schildern, Plakaten oder in Katalogen.”
For its part, the Uncommon European Framework for Languages is a project designed to imagine which concepts, practices, behaviors, experiences, virtues, and necessities are left out of the current A1-C2 framework: for example, an ability to appreciate musical, visual, or poetic aesthetics; an ability to embrace doubt, uncertainty, and ambiguity; an ability to feel or empathize in a foreign / second language context. Housed in the UA Department of German Studies, this “(Un)Common European Framework for Languages” is a collaborative thought-project about those aspects of language learning and (trans)linguistic practice that might not show up on the leading models of competence assessment.
Drop by and write in your ideas (in any language, format, or genre) for what D1 or H2, X1, or Z2 might mean. Thanks for joining in!